I had a meeting with the banks last week. Or rather, a bank.

And for now, no names. That’s part of the deal. Because that’s another trick that we all need to remember out here in the digital wastelands; that as journalists with a global publishing platform sat on top of our kitchen table, we have a rare opportunity to promote, not just ourselves, but those who help us on our way.

Those who ‘get’ it. So if a bank agrees to do X and Y for a little, local plumbing firm, then the likelihood is that only his very nearest and dearest will ever be any the wiser.

Someone looks us after me right bank-wise, and I’ll sing like a bird.

Cos we can. And it’s important to remember to keep asking yourself those questions – if left to fend for ourselves, what can we do? What value can we bring back? What else have we got in our locker? And that’s one – the power to promote, to recognise, to reward.

Might only need to be a passing mention; but anything that helps, you do. Right now, there’s not too much time for journalistic niceties; until we find our feet in this new world, just do what it takes.

Anyway, from my point of view, last week’s meeting was the best yet. There wasn’t a triangle in sight; we didn’t draw eachother diagrams; we just talked about life. As he leads it in this new, digital world of ours.

And it was fascinating.

Because, here I was trying to be the digital missionary; to sell – in no particular order – my soul, my wares and my vision to a late forty-something commercial manager of a High St bank, and he got ‘it’. Almost without too much prompting from me.

This man was ‘middle England’ – as much as that term ever exists. He sat on his village’s parish council; he had two grown-up daughters neither of whom read the Bury Free Press where they lived; one had a four-year grandchild who complained that grand-dad’s lap-top was too slow to play her favourite CBBs games…

Penny after penny dropped as he ran through how we, ‘the media’, actually physically interacted with the way that he and his family led their every-day lives.

Or rather, we didn’t increasingly.

There’s no longer a newsagents in the village; to get his Sunday papers he now has to drive three miles. Last weekend, for the first time in his late-fortysomething life, he got up on a Sunday morning and didn’t feel like getting into a car to go and pick up The Sunday Times. So he read the bits he wanted on-line.

Not the same, he admitted. But he still found the same news he always did.

A West Ham fan, he aggregates. He has a ‘NewsNow’ feed set-up on his PC at work and ‘when he gets a mo…’ he has a look to see what’s the latest news from the Hammers; doesn’t have to trawl around a host of sites looking; he lets News Now do the hard work for him; scrapes it all into one feed and presents it to him for ‘when he gets a mo…’

Doesn’t always bother with the latest from the Newham Recorder… finds it tends to be a week old…

They had friends who were selling a house; ‘My wife and I said to them: ‘Don’t just put it in the paper, make sure it’s online…

‘We’re not looking to move, but I know the wife when she gets a mo, likes to look at the property websites to see the price of homes in the village…’

This is how middle England are re-organising their lives; and all too often without us.

If you are not there when we want it – and where we want it – well, we can’t be bothered with you any more…

Don’t tell me when to watch Doctor Who, I’ll watch it on iPlayer ‘when I get a mo…

Don’t expect me to waste 20 minutes every day going out to buy a local evening paper, I’ll look at it online ‘when I get a mo…

Or rather, I won’t. I’ll get the NewsNow search spiders to crawl across the newsagents’ counter 24/7 and see what they can find for me; they can scrape around all day long, I’ve got better things to do… put the news that I want, in the place I want it, for ‘when I get a mo… 

For if any of us are ever going to survive in this new world, we have to understand – and quickly – how far the tables have turned; how wholly irrelevant we can so easily be to these peoples’ lives.

And this man was 48-years-old. Middle aged and middle England to a ‘T’.

Now think how much any of us mean to a 28-year-old who’s not…

 

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